Moth Facts

Not all moths are pests of fabrics. The case-making clothes moth (Tinea pellionella) and the webbing clothes moth (Tineola Bisselliella) attack materials mainly of animal origin - such as woolens, and furs. These moths generally occur in the more humid

Clothes Moths

Not all moths are pests of fabrics.  The case-making clothes moth (Tinea pellionella) and the webbing clothes moth (Tineola Bisselliella) attack materials mainly of animal origin - such as woolens, and furs.  These moths generally occur in the more humid coastal regions where their larvae can do extensive damage to carpets and clothing.

The adult clothes moths are small, usually up to 10mm long.  They are often yellow or gold to buff in colour.  They have narrow wings that are fringed and siphon-type sucking mouthparts, although adults do not feed.  The larvae that damage the fabrics have chewing mouthparts and are white in colour, with a dark head and six legs.  The larvae of both species are caterpillar-like but the case-making clothes moth larvae live in cases made of silk and fibres from material in which they are feeding.  The colour of the case may give some indication of the material it is feeding on, especially if it has migrated away from the feeding site.  The webbing clothes moth moves freely within its food material, without a protective case.

Female clothes moths usually lay their eggs on materials that will provide a suitable food source for larval development.  Eggs hatch in five to ten days and then the caterpillar-like larvae feed in dark undisturbed places.  The larval or feeding period is usually about two to six months.  The larvae of the webbing clothes moth feed, while the case-making clothes moth’s larvae leave the food material in their cases and pupate behind cupboards, on walls, and on picture rails.

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Control

Clothing affected by clothes moths can be sterilised by washing or wrapping in black plastic and exposing to the sun for two to three hours.

Chemical control - using sprays of deltamethrin, permethrin and propoxur - is effective when applied to clothing storage areas. When clothes moths attack floor coverings, it is important to give special attention to the edges and behind furniture. These are favoured sites for breeding, as very little disturbance occurs.